Unorthodox hairstyles, haunting music videos, and a distinctly ethereal sound are the qualities that set British backup-dancer-turned-musician FKA twigs apart from the present musical crowd. Twigs, who has also recently garnered media attention for a rumored relationship with Robert Pattinson, has created a uniquely mysterious persona with her indefinable sound, and mysterious, unique aesthetic.
You’re probably familiar with twigs’ striking look, what with photos of her new album artwork bedecking city streets, record stores, and, of course, the internet in past months. But, besides being familiar with her look, you should definitely familiarize yourself with her genre-eluding music.
This August, twigs released her first album, LP1. LP1 follows two EPs, aptly named EP1 and EP2, the first of which was self released online in 2012. EP2, on the other hand, was released through Young Turks in 2013 and consequently received more attention. Twigs’ newest release, also released with Young Turks, is not much of a departure from her past projects, perhaps apart from a slightly softer sound in EP1.
LP1 is hard to define. If I tried to describe it in terms of genre, I’d blab on about a mixture of ambient triphop pop et cetera and start talking about things I probably don’t know enough about. The album is a collection of masterfully and intricately layered sounds, as well as satisfyingly disorienting pauses. “Preface,” the first track of the album, sets the tone for the rest of the record with echoey, slightly haunting vocals painted over a delightful tangle of distorted noises. “Two Weeks” is easily the most popular song on the album, and is one of the more fleshed out, poppy tracks on LP1. However, what the song possesses in catchiness (due its more upbeat tempo), it lacks in lyrical depth. Like several of the songs on LP1, this song appears to be about lust; but “Two Weeks,” which is perhaps the most directly sexual track, is deficient in emotional honesty compared to songs like “Lights On,” in which twigs deals with themes like trust. “Pendulum,”another one of the album’s more popular songs, features a melody that seems to mirror the lyrics of the refrain, longing for an old loverwith its pleading, somehow timid tone.
Besides obvious choices “Two Weeks” and “Pendulum,” some of my favorite tracks from LP1 were “Give Up,” with its hip hop and trip hop leanings, and “Hours,” which is a great example of the whole album’s innovative use of silent pauses previously mentioned.
Lyrically, LP1 is honest. “Lights On,” “Pendulum,” “Video Girl,” and “Numbers” reveal a vulnerable, lustful, and lost FKA twigs. The theme of submission, too, permeates the album, with twigs’ willingly entangling her own identity with that of her lover’s (or whoever she is singing about). As the album progresses, however, we see somewhat of a transition; later on in the album, on songs like “Give Up,” twigs paints a slightly more confident, dominant picture of herself. However, this is short-lived, and the album seems to end up where it started with the last song, “Kicks,” in which twigs wonders what to do with herself in the absence of her lover.
One of my few complaints with this album is the lack of subject matter diversity in twigs’ lyrics. The majority of songs on LP1 deal with absent lovers and lust. The words seem honest and vulnerable at first, but ultimately become repetitive despite potentially “deeper” metaphorical interpretations.
Ultimately, however, this album is a beautiful tapestry comprised of sounds you wouldn’t expect to be compatible together. While twigs’ lyrics might not be on par with the rest of her musical project, she makes up for it in the grand scheme of things with the glorious experience that is delivered in LP1.
FKA twigs will be embarking on a world tour this fall, and will be making a stop in San Francisco November 20th.
Contact Samantha Neuber at sneuber ‘at’ stanford.edu